By Oliver Butler (@notoliverbutler)
CW: Mentions of rape, suicide.
Ah, 2017. If 2016 was anthropomorphized as the celebrity Grim Reaper, surely this year will be anthropomorphized as a celebrity rapist. Whilst we should always focus on the positives of anything, it’s hard to ignore that sexual abuse, misogyny and homophobia is still rife within the music industry, with many of our once-loved bands & artists being chucked into the ‘cancelled’ bin, because they’re abusive pieces of shit who’ve ruined more than a few lives. In other news, does anybody want to buy a signed Nothing But Thieves record?
This year also became the year that the barriers came down on mental health, and it was okay to not be okay. Musicians canceled tours and took a step back from the limelight, purely because mentally, they weren’t 100% fit, which was met with rounded understanding & solidarity with our heroes. Mental illness has also become a larger theme of modern music, with the demons that follow us being talked about more fluidly than ever before. Sadly, whilst we took many steps forward with our mental health, we sadly stumbled as within a short period, we lost the emphatic Chris Cornell and the legendary Chester Bennington, both to suicide.
Whilst the death of any of our favourite musicians will leave a hole in us, Chester’s death hurt me more than anything. Largely because just week’s prior, I’d gotten a free ticket to see Linkin Park in Birmingham. I showed up an hour late (Thanks, Eurowings), with muddled expectations because it’d been so long since I’d listened to Linkin Park, but as soon as I got there, I remembered that voice, that face, the man who soundtracked so many of our angsty teen years, almost as if he was frozen in time, an immortal that would guide so many angsty teenagers through confusing times. By the end of the show I was blown away, and on the flight the day after, was filling my ears with Linkin Park – it was so good to have them back in my life, but little did I know, weeks later, I’d have been one of the last people to see him perform live.
It hurt a lot, to be honest. Same with Chris Cornell, two premier musicians, lost in their prime because of a disgusting illness. We’re talking about it, but not enough, and it’s killing us.
From a personal point of view, this year’s been about the marquee gigs. Kicking off the year with Black Sabbath, it was beyond belief. Despite the fact that all three are on the cusp of seventy, they were all in fine form, proving why they’re the heavy metal genesis. It was also a good year for young blood, especially for metalcore as I saw both Bury Tomorrow and While She Sleeps tear it up. Not exactly the newest kids on the block, but definitely torchbearers for the future. In fact, I don’t think I saw a bad gig this year, apart from Liam Gallagher at Glastonbury. I also got to see Radiohead headline the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury, which is everything you think it is, and then some. It was a fantastic weekend with my best friends, as it always is, and is always the highlight of my year. The Prodigy closed off this year’s run of amazing gigs, showing that despite they’ve been together for nearly thirty years, they’ve still got the venom that helped soundtrack the jilted generation.
It was also a year of pushing myself musically, stretching my bass playing chops to new limits, occasionally pottering about in bands, but to no avail currently. I think the time’s come to self-produce some solo stuff in 2018, programme some drums, make sure that we’re overstocked on riffs next year. I think playing in a band is the best thing in the world: the camaraderie, the beer, the laughs, it’s a really good way to boost yourself.
I’m also buoyed by the future of rock and roll. Anyone who says it’s dead just isn’t selling records like they used to, but when I listen to the absolute plethora of new music out there, how the fuck can you even wobble? This year I’ve heard strong releases from Creeper, Royal Blood, While She Sleeps, Enter Shikari, Wolf Alice, Nachtexenpunx, Treeherder, PVRIS, Arcane Roots AND Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes (remind me who I missed) with bands like Dorothy, Broken Hands, Beartooth, Bury Tomorrow and Blackfoxxes showing plenty of potential for the future. I’ve also broadened my hip-hop tastes in 2017, with Brockhampton and Kung Fu Kenny himself being my stars of 2017. I’ve always been into rap, hip-hop and largely grime, but I truly believe that they’re the next breed of ‘rockstars’. Fuck what the Mail says, Stormzy is a role model; a humble guy who’s honest and open about who he is, and a hell of an artist to boot. They’ll try to drag a black boy with a joint down all they like, we, the many, know that’s complete bullshit.
And of course, the biggest highlight of 2017 has been being a Blinkclyro writer. You’ve all taken me into your hearts and devices, and supported me, built me up and given me the fire to keep writing. It’s been so good to talk to you about new albums, some rowdy gigs and of course, my new weekly column. I can’t thank your founder, my god (I swear I didn’t add this – Ed), Liam Menzies for giving me a shot. From a shaky review of Green Light by Lorde, right up to launching a column, he’s been supporting, advising and keeping everything going. Also, shout out to my wonderful colleagues, it’s been a joy to edit your articles because I see such talent oozing from it.
In 2018, I hope that we’ll be able to let girls be musicians and enjoy gigs without the fear of being groped and that we never lose another brother or sister to suicide, that’s all. There’ll always be good music, good gigs, and rising stars, but we just need a safer environment for all of our friends. I wish you a happy new year, and I’ll be here, every week, like it or not.
Until I’m sacked.